Castello Maniace

Castello Maniace

ORTIGIA – SIRACUSA

The name of the castle comes from Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who reconquered the city in 1038 AD for a short period defeating the Arabs and who brought as a gift two Hellenistic bronze rams, which were then placed at the entrance of the fort he had built. It is a Swabian castle which stands on the tip of the island of Ortigia, in defense of the natural harbor known as “Porto Grande” in Syracuse, designed by Riccardo Lentini between 1232 and 1240 on behalf of Frederick II. In 1288 King Peter III of Aragon lived there with his family. The Castle was part of a series of castles and towers scattered along the coasts of Sicily and looks like a towering structure of 51 meters per side, with its four round towers at the corners, where the characters are combined with models of the Swabian, Byzantine and Arab culture.

On the west side there is the entrance portal with a beautiful ogival arch, surmounted by the imperial coat of arms of Charles V (XVI A.D.) representing an eagle with two heads. On each side of the portal, resting on shelves, were the two bronze rams, one of which is preserved in the archaeological museum in Palermo, while the other has been lost or destroyed in 1848. Near the west tower there is the so-called Bath of the Queen: a place about which much has been imagined. It was said that it was spacious and adorned with marble, with seats and tanks, but according to the most widely accepted interpretation it was merely a source of water supply for the castle, which uses one of Ortigia’s sources of fresh water . Today, after a long renovation, the castle has been opened to public use. In recent years, also, the beautiful Arena Maniace (the big square opposite the entrance of the castle) has become a place for shows and other cultural events.